A quirky puzzler that has you taking on the foulest of enemies: uncleanliness!
Release date: 3 March, 2020
Chivalry isn’t dead, it just smells funny
Being a knight sometimes isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Sure you might have a shiny suit of armor and get to order non-shiny people around, but it also means other people get to order you around. Some days this might mean packing up and travelling halfway around the world because the Church needs your king’s help settling a minor dispute. In the case of the Order of the Puddle Knights, though, that means…helping nobles get to a party without getting their clothes dirty. Hey, beats being a Serf.
Like any good puzzle game Puddle Knights has some pretty well-designed rules. Each level gives you a well-to-do member of society and tasks you with taking them from point A to point B. Any patches of mud – and every level has quite a few – are impassable, which is where the titular knights come in. They can walk across the mud just fine, and each has a fancy cape that the noble can walk across too. Simple enough, so far.
Except, thanks to their big cape the knights can’t move backwards unless they’re able to turn, and they can’t move with the standing on their cape. Each level, then, has you carefully manoeuvring the knight in order to give the noble a path to the end. It’s deceptively tricky, but nothing that complex…for the first world. There are seven, and each adds some extra rule. The second starts giving you multiple knights to use at once, and establishes that they’re heavy enough to make capes tear away if they’re standing on top of one when its owner moves. I have to imagine it’ll keep ramping up that way throughout, and even some of the brain-teasers in the second world had me staring at them trying to logic them out for ten minutes or more. No less than the creator of Baba Is You has a quote on the game’s Steam page commenting that the game retroactively inspired him. If you know anything that game, that’s certainly high praise.
But it might speak to a flaw of the game, if a subjective one, since some players just might not be into spending that long on one puzzle. That said, Puddle Knights is what I would call a fair challenge. It is possible to get your pieces in positions where they’re stuck, but the game allows you to undo your last move whenever you please with no restrictions, even if you reset the level (which is also an option). This means there is technically no fail state to the puzzles, so it’s just you and the game without anything getting in the way. I have to appreciate that.
Graphically the game looks alright. It’s definitely a title where the gameplay matters more than how it looks, although I do like its style – the levels remind me of a board game or a pop-up book. But overall it’s just serviceable and that’s perfectly fine. The same can be said about the music, which is perfectly fine and has some nice ambience, but nothing I’d go out of my way to listen to.
I’ve been at Puddle Knights around four hours and that’s taken me to the end of World 3, so it seems to be reasonably meaty for a puzzle game, although that might vary depending on how quickly some puzzles click for you. I wasn’t sure what to expect from the game but it definitely impressed me. I give it a Save, pick it up if you want a puzzler that does stuff differently.